Everyone at Lone Star College-Montgomery was expecting to come back to campus after Spring Break. We were shocked to receive an e-mail after e-mail delaying our return. We were not prepared for the beginning of the new normal: social distancing. The Maverick Assistance Center, with in-person services being its specialty, was hit especially hard.
The Maverick Assistance Center, (the MAC) is a hub comprised of departments and services focusing on navigating students throughout their college experience. With the Summer and Fall semesters on the horizon, the MAC had to act quickly to offer the same quality service to students. I spoke to Lauren Cash, the Manager of Enrollment Services, about how her team was able to create the Virtual Maverick Assistance Center. The genesis of the MAC sprang from need. The student experience prior to the MAC’s development had a few issues that needed to be resolved.
Dr. Michael Chavez, Vice President of Student Success, reflected on the experience, “Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Lost time is never found again.’ Before the MAC, students could be waiting in the Advising Lobby for hours before they were called in to see someone only to find out that the student needed to see an Admission Specialists and the wait would begin all over again. This was frustrating for students and staff because it was time wasted.”
“Every student has a different story. Navigating the college experience can be really exciting, but for some, it can also be incredibly intimidating.” Cash says, “It is important for the enrollment services team to always have a growth mindset and a fluid approach to supporting our students. In 2017, our administration invited Lean Six Sigma to come to the Montgomery Campus to help us explore a different approach to our services. We surveyed the staff and students to evaluate our current procedures. We saw the need to create a ‘home’ and a starting point for all students, where our staff could ensure that students felt supported and encouraged throughout their student experience.”
The “home” Cash was looking for would surface as the MAC, a full-service student center with a collaborative mindset between departments and a one-stop-shop concept. The center houses admissions, financial aid, advising, student life, veterans services, the call center, international student services, outreach, and testing center representatives. Each member of the Enrollment Team became a Jack of All Trades while still being an expert in their own department. Cash was able to create this fast-paced environment after months of building a solid foundation between departments, creating consistent processes, and developing frequent in-depth training across departments.
Dr. Chavez further explains, “The MAC’s focus is based on triaging students before they were seated and waiting to talk to a professional. Also, this approach allowed the Student Success team an opportunity to provide their expertise upfront. A lot of times, the student’s request can be solved within a 5-minute time frame without even waiting to see an advisor.”
Cash added, “The team worked together to establish MAC goals–support students, reduce wait time and show our dedication through consistent and accurate services.” This not only created a team that could provide quality service to students, but also fostered an environment of collaboration that would prove to be useful in unprecedented times.
The MAC proved to be a huge success. Cash spoke passionately about its success, “Students return to the MAC regularly. They say, ‘We didn’t know where to go, but we knew that the staff here would help us.’ They’ll get answers regarding services that are not even in our building or located at our campus! Administrators, staff, and faculty physically walk students to us. They can trust we will find out the answers and support students. The students’ and faculty’s trust are our highest endorsement.